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Bonnie Ramaila gives insight into what the ANC is currently planning in the build-up to the 2024 elections–and what must be done to ensure voters turn up to the polls

The ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa embarked on a Manifesto Review Campaign process which was launched in Soweto earlier this month. This review is a process wherein the organisation is engaging with the various professional bodies, civil society, and the public to review how it has fared in their execution of the 2019 mandate and solicit input.

It is the first time in its history that the organisation is subjecting itself to public scrutiny and criticism, constructive criticism I must add, seeking to know from the people they serve, the public, and its constituencies on how it has performed in this term.

It is said that the insights that would be gathered from this process would be used to formulate the 2024 Election Manifesto.

For an organisation that has undoubtedly incurred great obloquy of late, this is a step in the right direction the ANC is taking. They understand that victory loves preparation.

However, in the run up to next year’s elections, some major considerations will be critical. The first one is whether the general public will go to the polls having satisfactorily apprised to a factual balance of the ruling party’s resounding success of its goals against its glaring failures.

The second critical consideration is the question, are the ruling party’s inadvertent failures a collective betrayal of its manifesto or proverbially a player’s defensive error, that cost the team a championship title in spite of having won the league, given the greed and corruption scandals that relegated the poor to an outer sanctum?

Third, has the admission by the President of the reality of corruption by some individuals—both of party members and of public office bearers—been sufficient to convince the public that they have been transparent enough to identify and decisively root out the rotten apples from public service?

Lastly, to what extent, therefore, will these variables influence the voter’s choice when casting their ballots?

These are questions I am certain some people want to engage the ANC on.

Over and above these, ruling media houses will be out and about to systematically cast aspersions at the ruling party’s achievements and efforts over the past terms of office. All these in an effort to influence voters’ opinion against the ruling party.

Undoubtedly, there has been a steady and sad decline in numbers of voter turnout in the past few national elections. Some of it can arguably be attributable to media influence, with its plethora of doom and gloom reportage on various social media platforms.

Against these trials ahead, the ruling party’s greatest challenge is rebuilding public confidence among the public and restoring the pride, not of the party name, but of good governance and service delivery. And I hope the review process helps in achieving this.

In business, success is built on principles, and the ruling party’s success will strongly hinge on principles—not self-interest. The crystallisation and collective ownership by individual members of its party goals, national vision, and 2024 election manifesto will be fundamental in creating cohesion and fluidity.

But perhaps even more cardinal will be the spirit of service, an attribute that will anchor its potential for longevity. Service delivery is a problem, especially in the rural areas where its voter base is situated.

As with a church, at the heart of its raison d’etre, is the salvation of souls and the maintenance of love for one another—not of building structures, financial security, numerical growth, popularity, prosperity or prestige—but its concern is with souls. By the same token, the ANC has to intensify this ethic among its electorate by inculcating its purpose of existence.

Those shouldering responsibility of leadership should steer away from positions, rank, power at all its cluster structures. Leaders at all levels must be the first to literally dirty their hands when it comes to service.

A classical example is among other many good Ministers, Minister Mamoloko Kubayi, whom I have witnessed literally dirtying her hands, forgetting she is a Minister in times of need when she got down to wash dishes, sweep the floor, carry heavy items, and lead by example at some community visits, when the occasion called for it.

Perhaps moving forward, much of the party’s resilience will rest not so much on the bulk and size of its muscle, but on the healthy structure of its tissues—after all, muscles are made of tissues—and those are its supporters, constituencies, and members.

When the foot soldiers are active and motivated, the rank officers will function optimally and win battles.

So, these coming elections are critical for the ANC, it’s not only votes they are campaigning for, but it is certainly a numbers game. They are sipping champagne in the last chance bar that will either change their cause forever, or not. I’m talking about humanitarian catastrophe on a grandiose scale—okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the point—the numbers are at stake.

The success of this review campaign will not be determined by a water tight 2024 Election Manifesto, but by the number of voters they will garner as a result of this process (and to a large extent, the election campaign message). ANC ought to be harder at work than ever. They have great accomplishments, as well as challenges, however, it is about time they graduate from this university of adversity.

As the President of the ANC continues on the Manifesto Review Campaign for the remainder of the year, I will be taking part in this process by writing and airing my views and offering my two cents worth of opinion, as it is time for change of attitude and outlook from the ANC.

So, ANC, are you ready to handle uncomfortable truths?

Bonnie Ramaila is the Head of Communications in the Department of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation in the Presidency.